March 31, 2013

More on Timmeh

I've now read several versions of what dear, sweet Cardinal Dolan said about gays on Easter Sunday. The man doesn't seem to be mentally or emotionally equipped for his job. That's my take on the situation.

Here's a lovely passage from Think Progress' account of the exchange. After reporting what Timmy said (we can be "friends" but must never ever allow our genitals to touch; thanks, Timmy!) they note the following:
After lobbying against New York’s marriage equality law, Dolan prohibited by decree any Church personnel or property from being utilized for same-sex marriage ceremonies under penalty of “canonical sanctions,” calling the state’s law “irreconcilable with the nature and the definition of marriage as established by Divine law.” He has also compared the “threat” posed to marriage by gays and lesbians to that of polygamy, adultery, forced marriage, communist dictatorships, and incest. [Note: the actual text has many links, for those who wish to document his inhumane statements.]
Let's focus on the section I bolded above. Exactly when and where did Jesus mention "the nature and the definition of marriage as established by Divine Law"? Ahem. I'm waiting. Jesus never said one goddamn thing about this. Timmy Dolan is just damaged goods.

It would be heavenly if the pope countered this nonsense. I wonder what Timmy would say then? He's the original suck-up-to-power guy. It would truly be fun to hear his tortured words, if this ever came to pass.

But we must remember that Argentina's gays hated Bergoglio, who morphed into Popeyguy Francis. So perhaps this is a pipe dream. It's a lovely one, though.

Dolan says nothing

Joe.My.God has the full rundown on a great question asked of dear, sweet, anti-gay Cardinal Dolan. I won't steal Joe's thunder. Anyway, you really have to read it for yourself. Oy.

Timmy seems to suspect that a more moral pope is in charge now. Let's hope that's the case. If the church backs off its anti-gay rhetoric, I might even stop making fun of these boobs.

Nah, it would still be a religion based on a non-existent god. But I might not make it so personal. And by that, I mean I might not hurl boiling oil at them, as they've done toward gay people.

Time will tell.

Easter ushers in the baseball season

Today we celebrate Easter, the day that signifies the resurrection of the baseball season. As the Easter bunny always says, "Rejoice! Baseball has climbed out of its sepulchre. It lives!"

But of course, we can't forget the simple joy that Easter brings to children. Every child -- rich or poor -- knows that on Easter morning, he or she will wake up to a fresh basket of bats made of peanuts and white chocolate. And then later in the day, they will experience the joy of trying to find the chocolate baseballs hidden in their yards by local baseball coaches.

So if you see a child sitting in a yard today, eating a tasty baseball bat and dreaming of the coming season, give the kid a high five and tell him your favorite team.

Because this is the real meaning of Easter: play ball!!!

March 30, 2013

Fake shroud marches on

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Shroud of Turin has gone on display for a special TV appearance amid new research purporting to date the linen some say was Jesus' burial cloth to around the time of his death. 
The Shroud of Keith.
Jeebus. A "special TV appearance" by the Shroud! It almost makes you wonder if the Shroud has an agent (Scott Boras, perhaps). Even the new popeyguy sent a message to the Shroud's fans. Alas, he didn't say what they wanted to hear.
The Vatican has tiptoed around just what the cloth is, calling it a powerful symbol of Christ's suffering while making no claim to its authenticity. 

Francis toed that line Saturday, calling the cloth an "icon" — not a relic.

Many experts stand by carbon-dating of scraps of the cloth that date it to the 13th or 14th century
Ahem. Repeat after me: sideshow attraction. There you go!

As the world churns

This week many nations are posturing with their testosterone-laden fleets and planes and bombs -- solely to impress scare each other. Now, where have I seen this act before? I mean, it's so damn familiar. Oh, I remember. It's what all braindead, piggish males do on every street corner in America, every day. Gotta let that testosterone rage. Gotta.

Our government loves war. Just can't get enough of it. This worries me because I tend to see where it's all going, and it's not a good place.

If all the Arab Spring countries end up as unthinking, Muslim-controlled hotbeds of hatred, I think I know what the US will do. It will nuke the entire area off the planet. Problem solved, in their over-amped, testosterone-soaked brains. (Though maybe they'll try to develop a DNA-controlled death-switch that affects only those with Arab, Persian, etc. genes. Uh-huh. Like this won't get out of control. Ha.)

I could see this end-play happening in real life. And that's scary. Our ability to kill each other grows exponentially with the passage of time. And testosterone-heads won't be able to resist pulling the trigger.

The world that comes after that will be unrecognizable. And something tells me it will be controlled by religious crazies of the American kind. The American Taliban will finally have its day. I don't want to be around for that.

Francis is being interesting. Again.

Another take on the famous foot-washing, this time as viewed by Benedict's crowd.
Virtually everything he has done since being elected pope, every gesture, every decision, has rankled traditionalists in one way or another. 
Right there, you have to like the guy. He's definitely going to liven things by trying to bring, you know, Christ back into the church. I loved his washing the feet of the juvenile offenders. In this simple action, there was a promising hint of his plans. Read the following and tell me there's still no possibility that women will become priests.
The church's liturgical law holds that only men can participate in the rite, given that Jesus' apostles were all male. Priests and bishops have routinely petitioned for exemptions to include women, but the law is clear. 
The words I bolded are regularly cited when rejecting the concept of women priests: Jesus' apostles were all male. Perhaps Francis sees this issue in a new light. It would be wonderful if he ended the all-male priesthood (and allowed priests to marry).

I've always had a notion that if the priests got a little (normal, adult, consensual) nookie on the side, they'd lay off the anti-gay theatrics. So who knows what the future will bring? Mind you, if he follows through on any of this, the church will become stronger. But a church like that I might be able to live with. And so might a lot of Catholics.

Things are looking up for Catholic women

It looks like Pope Francis may be open to the concept of women as real, full-fledged people.
In his most significant break with tradition yet, Pope Francis washed and kissed the feet of two young women at a juvenile detention center — a surprising departure from church rules that restrict the Holy Thursday ritual to men. 
I like the sound of that. I'm sure a lot of Catholic women are experiencing hope right now. This popeyguy had better come through.

But I keep wondering if this pope's first few days on the job are similar to Obama's campaign speeches -- without substance, in other words. I hope not. Much as I detest this church for its wanton attacks on gays, I know there are many people who believe in this church's god. For their sake, and most especially for the sake of women, I hope this popeyguy is open to honest, real participation by women in the church.

(Hey, what can I say? I've got a few friends who are nuns. They're nice people and they could use some respect, especially after the popeyguy emeritus tossed them out like so much garbage.)

March 29, 2013

Filling the alleged hole

Jerry Coyne has an interesting post today about the tomfoolery of religious apologists. They certainly are a craven lot.

One of the arguments religious apologists can't resist hauling out on a regular basis is that we can't take religion away from people because it will leave a big hole in their lives (or souls, or something). Whatever will they do on Sundays?! Horrors. About this, Jerry says:
As for filling those God-shaped holes, I feel, as I said above, that this will happen naturally as religion goes away, like a hole in the beach eventually fills with water.
There you go. It's like the way I feel when the baseball season ends -- like there's a big black hole in my life and I won't be able to go on. But lo and behold, other things quickly and naturally fill that hole. In fact, there doesn't seem to be a hole. It's just a mirage.

Religion needs to go. It wastes time, effort, resources and money that should rightly be directed toward, you know, saving the planet and other real-life activities.

Animal consciousness

Jason Rosenhouse has a longish post about an even longer article by John Jeremiah Sullivan. I read both and found them interesting. Each speaks about animal consciousness and the inability of humans to see and understand that consciousness. Though Rosenhouse quotes extensively from the article, he did not include the ending. Here it is: (bolding is mine)
In Michel de Montaigne’s excellent passage on animal minds in the “Apology for Raymond Sebond”, in which he writes about playing with his cat and wonders who is playing with whom, there is a funny and deceptively profound final sentence: “We divert each other with monkey tricks,” he writes. Meaning he and the cat. Both human being and cat are compared with a third animal. They are monkeys to each other, strange animals to each other. (The man is all but literally a monkey to the cat.) All three creatures involved in Montaigne’s metaphor are revealed as points on a continuum, and none of them understands the others very well. This is what the study of animal consciousness can teach us, finally—that we possess an animal consciousness.
Indeed. As Rosenhouse says in the article and I've long said on this blog, the difference between our consciousness and that of animals is only a matter of degree. We are all conscious.

Hallelujah! The Shroud is (not) real!!!

So let's see. It's Good Friday and suddenly a report comes out saying that the Shroud of Turin is real. Praise Jeebus! And lookee, there's a TV special about it and it's almost Easter! That must mean it's really, really real!
A viewing of the The Shroud of Turin, thought by many to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ, will reportedly be televised Saturday on Italian State TV in what is said to be former Pope Benedict XVI’s parting gift to the Catholic Church.
That popeyguy emeritus! He's always doing things for us. What a guy.
There was no portrait made of Jesus so, really, the shroud still remains the best single thing that we have,” said Russ Breault, president of the Shroud of Turin Education Project Inc., an organization “dedicated to raising awareness and understanding” of the shroud, according to its website.
Well, that makes perfect sense. We have no clue what Jesus looked like...and then this piece of cloth turns obviously it's an image of Jesus himself. How could anyone doubt this logic?

More ironclad logic from the linked article:
“When you consider that there are no substances on the cloth that were conceivably used by an artist, and the fact that the blood on the cloth is human blood, it would suggest that the cloth is probably authentic,” Breault said.
Of course, of course. This points directly to Jesus as the source. Why, anyone could see this if he wasn't blinded by New Atheism. Sigh.

I look forward to the next debunking. The Shroud of Turin is a scam, nothing more than a sideshow attraction for gullible rubes. Note the new TV show centered on the Shroud and the new book based on this "scientific" result. Repeat after me: sideshow attraction.

It's Good Friday

This is the day when Christians commemorate Jesus' crucifixion. Supposedly he died for our sins, especially the "original sin" of Adam and Eve. Darn that apple!

But in our modern age, science assures us that Adam and Eve didn't exist. Never in the history of mankind was there a set of only two progenitors from whom the species homo sapiens sprang. Such a genetic bottleneck literally could not have occurred. So, nuh-uh. No Adam and Eve.

Necessarily, this means there was no apple and therefore no fall from grace. Didn't happen. And that means there was no reason for Jesus to die "for our sins". So cross out the crucifixion, too.

It truly is a good Friday, isn't it? I think I'll make a nice breakfast to celebrate. How will you celebrate the day?

Wingnut uses marital status against gays

You can't make this stuff up. It's one of those "damned if you do, damned if you don't" things. Let's see how this one works.

Michigan Republican National Committeeman Dave Agema regularly votes against allowing gays to marry, allowing them equal rights, etc. Yup, he's a dyed-in-the-wool wingnut -- and the Wingnut Creed requires that they hate gay people.

Ah, but the story doesn't end there. Recently he sponsored a bill to ban domestic partner benefits for all public employees. He actually said this to support his position:
In defending his legislation, Agema wrote in a 2011 statement, "It is not the responsibility of taxpayers to support the roommates and unmarried partners of public employees."
So...we can't marry...and we can't get benefits because we're, ahem, not married. This is how wingnuts roll -- without any logic. I will be so happy when stupid people go out of vogue. It'll happen some day, right?...Right?

March 28, 2013

I love religion -- for the laughs

In an AP article at the NYT about "El Santuario de Chimayo, one of the most popular Catholic shrines in the Americas", I found this:
Some pilgrims will make the 90-mile, three-day walk from Albuquerque to the shrine that houses "el pocito," a small pit of holy adobe-colored soil that some believe possesses curing powers. 
Indeed. I don't understand what's wrong with people's brains that allows them to believe in this sort of nonsense. A pit of soil?
Just two weeks after Pope Francis was elected, around 50,000 are expected to visit the popular northern New Mexico Catholic shrine, and officials say even more may come because of Argentine-born pontiff. 
Because there's such an obvious connection between the new pope and this pit of holy soil. Everyone can see it. Sigh.

Good article at AmericaBlog

John Aravosis has a post up called "The gay kiss as political weapon". It's great and he's right. Two men kissing! Two women kissing! Some people get the vapors over this but images of same-sex kisses are powerful and have played a role in the fight against anti-gay bigotry.

He's also got a shot of the Time covers. Very cool, as is Time's headline: "Gay Marriage Already Won". Yes, indeed. If you haven't seen the cover(s), click on over to John's post.

Salon got it right

There's a "gay marriage courage meter" over at Salon. It puts politicians on a graph to indicate their level of courage in standing up for gay marriage.

Though Joe Jervis disagrees, I think Hillary Clinton's placement on the graph is perfect: dead last. Check it out. (Scroll down for the full graph.)

Sending heat back where it came from

This scientific advance seems shocking. These days, we're used to seeing solar panels covering the roofs of buildings. Although this new discovery also involves placing panels on a roof, it's an entirely different scheme. Rather than generating power, these panels send much of the sun's heat back into the coldness of space!
"People usually see space as a source of heat from the sun, but away from the sun outer space is really a cold, cold place," explained Shanhui Fan, professor of electrical engineering and the paper's senior author. "We've developed a new type of structure that reflects the vast majority of sunlight, while at the same time it sends heat into that coldness, which cools manmade structures even in the day time." 
This is a whole 'nother thing, people. And it could help even those who live in areas without electrical power. It requires no power other than the sun. Imagine the pleasure of cool spaces in the hottest places on the Earth.
Radiative cooling has another profound advantage over all other cooling strategy such as air-conditioner. It is a passive technology. It requires no energy. It has no moving parts. It is easy to maintain. You put it on the roof or the sides of buildings and it starts working immediately.
This is a game-changer. And though the linked article doesn't mention it, if we've discovered a way to send heat back into space, we have an effective way to address climate change. I'd say that's news.

Gay NFL player to come out

There's a good story at CNN about this. It seems homophobia has had its day in professional sports, and a new era is coming. Dang, you can't even call a sports show to share your anti-gay feelings anymore!
A few weeks ago I heard a caller on local sports talk radio—I know, not always the bastion of level-headedness—tell the host he hopes no player comes out because he, the caller, didn't want to have to deal with it.

He didn't want to have to explain what that meant to his family, or deal with the issue of that gay player, perhaps, being on a team for which he likes to cheer. He was, pardon the expression, undressed by the host, pilloried for his antiquated viewpoints and lampooned for even daring to make someone else's struggle with their hidden sexuality about them.
You have to remember, this is a story at CNN rather than at a gay site. I think it would great if a popular, talented football player came out (and of course, I wonder who they're talking about). From the story, I take it the team is fine with him being gay. He's worried about the reaction of fans -- and that's understandable. No matter how well things are going for gay people, there are still a lot of people out there who hate us. Still, the time seems right. I hope he finds the courage to come out.

I'm mostly a baseball fan and I often find myself hoping that a baseball player will come out. We aren't going away, and that's a fact. Soon we'll be everywhere, openly. That's so great and it'll help young gay kids to feel better about themselves. Enough with the homophobia. It's a new day.

Russia is lost

Russia is "becoming a 'bona fide' dictatorship". That's the headline at Der Spiegel. I'd argue with their use of the word "becoming". It's already happened. Here's an excerpt from the article:
Russia continued its series of raids on non-governmental organizations on Wednesday with visits to Human Rights Watch and Transparency International. The operation, say German commentators, is just the latest sign that Russian civil society is eroding and President Putin is turning into a dictator.
Turning into? The man is and always has been a dictator. It's just that people are noticing now that he's amped up the process. The country is gone. Again.

March 27, 2013

You gotta have a gimmick

Like those who unfurl the sideshow attraction known as the Shroud of Turin, Timmy Dolan knows that you gotta have a gimmick. Get a load of this photo. That's what he was hauling around on Palm Sunday. It looks like a prize from a track meet.

And where did Timmy (and the Shroud gang) learn the most basic rule of sideshows? From this song and movie, of course.

Horizon rainbow in Paris

This is today's image from NASA's Astronomy Pic of the Day site. Pretty cool, huh? Here's the explanation:
Why is this horizon so colorful? Because, opposite the Sun, it is raining. What is pictured above is actually just a common rainbow. It's uncommon appearance is caused by the Sun being unusually high in the sky during the rainbow's creation. Since every rainbow's center must be exactly opposite the Sun, a high Sun reflecting off of a distant rain will produce a low rainbow where only the very top is visible -- because the rest of the rainbow is below the horizon. Furthermore, no two observers can see exactly the same rainbow -- every person finds themselves exactly between the Sun and rainbow's center, and every observer sees the colorful circular band precisely 42 degrees from rainbow's center. The above image featuring the Eiffel Tower was taken in Paris, France last week. Although the intermittent thunderstorms lasted for much of the day, the horizon rainbow lasted for only a few minutes.

Will Justice Kennedy wimp out?

Yesterday's activities at the Supreme Court seemed to revolve around Justice Anthony Kennedy. We know how the others will vote; Kennedy's the wild card. 

Though many reporters seem to think he'll toss the case aside for lack of standing, or because he is hesitant to toss "2,000 years of history or more", I prefer to focus on the following remarks made by Kennedy:
"There are some 40,000 children in California, according to the Red Brief, that live with same-sex parents, and they want their parents to have full recognition and full status.
"The voice of those children is important in this case, don't you think?"
Yes, it is. And he understands that. It's our only hope.

Odd timing

I wonder about the timing of this attack on students by a Catholic institution (Boston University).
University officials sent a letter on March 15 demanding an end to student-run Safe Sites, a network of dorm rooms and other locations where free contraceptives and safe-sex information are available. The university says the distribution of condoms is a violation of the school's Roman Catholic values. 
Dog forbid the students do something sensible that has a connection! The Catholic disease strikes again. But seriously, why now? And by "why now", I mean shouldn't they wait for a cue from the new popeyguy?
Lizzie Jekanowski, chairwoman of BC Students for Sexual Health, tells The Boston Globe the administration has known about the condom distribution for two years yet has never before threatened action. 
Why now, BU? You look like idiots. Luckily, the ACLU is on it. They're filing a suit against the school. I wonder if tired old Catholics will continue to do stupid things like this once Francis hits his stride. I hope he's not going to focus on sex, like his predecessors. It's so old, so wrong, so tired. I hope the ACLU smacks the school down in a very public, vicious manner.

Watch your adjectives, kids

In a science article I was struck by a description. The text referred to mouse lemurs as "saucer-eyed, teacup-sized primates". I love the dissonance in the description. (In case it's not obvious: saucers are larger than teacups.)

March 26, 2013

Sometimes Siri gets drunk

Siri, Apple's virtual assistant, is usually reliable. But every now and then, it seems like she's dead drunk.

First, understand that Siri and dictation both use the same engine. If Siri understands your words, so does Mac's dictation function. I often speak to my iPad in the evening. I'll dictate an idea for a post, or a note for a novel. It's quite helpful.

The way dictation and Siri work is that when you speak you speak to your iPad (or computer), it records what you say and sends the recording to Apple, whose servers decipher its meaning and return text to you. As I say, it's usually quite good.

But when the circuits are busy -- like on a Friday night or, really, anytime after school lets out -- Siri screws up. Last night I tried to input a title for a post. I dictated "These people are onto something" and Siri returned "Are Pontoosuc". See what I mean? Drunk. I think it's wild how wrong it gets it. I mean, are pontoosuc? Well, I guess it got the "onto" part right.

Anyway, if this ever happens to you, just wait a moment and try again. If it still doesn't work, wait ten minutes. That should take care of it.

Justices in a sensible mood?

As I try to ignore the fact that the Supreme Court has a strangle-hold on gay marriage today, this news comes out of the court:
The Supreme Court says police using a dog to sniff outside a Miami-area house being used to grow marijuana violated the homeowner's constitutional rights.
Could it be that they're in a sensible mood? Or are they trying to get sensibility out of their system so they can go wild as they attack gay marriage? BTW, Alito isn't happy with this decision.
Justice Samuel Alito wrote the dissent, saying police did not trespass on the property by coming up to the front door with the dog. Alito also said people cannot expect that odors will not make it outside a house, where they can be detected by dogs. 
Have you ever looked at Alito? There is fear in his eyes at all times. The message his facial expression sends to me is, "I know I'm scum and don't deserve to be in this position." The guy has no confidence. None. He's like an adolescent -- and dangerous for that very reason.

Slow humans

Jerry Coyne has a post about a new test result confirming that decisions are made well before "we" make them -- in other words, before the (illusory) person in our head that we call "us" is aware of the decision. In fact, new experimental results show that it takes four seconds before we realize that some types of decisions have been made. Deciding seems to happen without "our" involvement. The decisions we think we make are actually a done deal way before "we" make them.

He cites this result as further evidence that free will is an illusion. We think "we" make all "our" decisions but the real action happens down under. Way down under. It seems to be a rather mechanical process that occurs on a level of which we are unaware. In other words, we are puppets -- which is a super-scary notion for religious people. Puppets?! What then of sin and punishment?! Horrors, they cry. (If this idea intrigues you, see the linked article.)

This idea isn't new to me. I'm not 100% on the no-free-will bandwagon -- though I do lean in that direction. In my case, I do so because physics tells us that the future is already there. The past and the future are needed to hold up the present. They're bulwarks that must exist or there would be no present. This would imply that there is only one decision we can make at any single point in the future. After all, it's a done deal. But never mind that for now.

This experiment and others like it remind me of something. You know when you're watching a baseball game on TV and the pitcher is almost hit by a ball? When they show the replay in slow motion, I'm always mesmerized by how long it takes the pitcher to see the ball that's coming right at him. There's a relatively long stretch where the ball leaves the bat and flies toward the pitcher -- and he's just standing there with no idea what's coming his way. When the ball gets about halfway to his face, he finally notices it and, in some lucky cases, ducks.

But that delay is so telling. We are aware of things well after the instant they occur. We're so damn slow! This isn't directly related to the time-delay experiment, of course. But then, I wonder when the "decision" to duck really occurs. In any case, I'll always enjoy those replays. Next time you see one, watch how long it takes for the pitcher to react. It's funny, and a bit scary.

BTW, in case this whole thing scares you, don't worry. You can ignore this entirely. Whether free will exists or not, it will always seem that it exists. So we can go on as we always have, believing that each decision is up to us. In fact, it's difficult to think in any other fashion.

March 25, 2013

Good article about caring for old people

You care for old people and then they die. That's the brutal truth. One writer's take on the whole thing. It's quite good.

Supremes take on gay marriage

I won't be writing much about the Supreme Court's decision regarding gay marriage this week.

Yes, what they decide can affect us greatly. But these "justices" have no authority to say anything about our right to marry, about my right to marry. I don't respect them and I don't care what they think or say or do.

We will marry. That's a fact. What goes down at some dimwit court has little bearing on this, in the long run. As far as I'm concerned, they can do whatever the hell they want.

I am aggravated rather than interested. I feel distaste rather than a hunger for justice. And I am appalled that in the year 2013, someone thinks they can say anything about my marriage.

Hair and people: same deal

Yesterday, I got my hair cut. I tossed about 6 inches -- but don't worry. It's still obnoxiously long.

As most women know, hairs are just like people. The longer they've been around, the less of them there are. That's why the ends of long hair can look wispy and lonely. You see, not too many head hairs last long enough to grow super-long. This is similar to the case of old people. If you watch a bunch of old people for decades, their numbers will drop. It's hard to stick around for a really, really long time.

I'm sure there's a moral here, but for now I'll just enjoy the fact that my hair looks fuller. You guys have no idea what I'm talking about, do you?

Never mind.

Two weeks later, pope still not evil

The pope hasn't said or done anything evil. He hasn't said vicious things against gay people. He hasn't called for a pogrom against American nuns. He hasn't done one awful thing. It's amazing. In fact, he's so not-evil, it's driving some Catholics up a wall.
Chief among the critics are the liturgical traditionalists who reveled in Benedict's exaltation of old-fashioned ways, and are now watching in horror as Francis rejects the extravagant vestments and high-church rituals that were in en vogue for the past eight years.
"Of all the unthinkable candidates, Jorge Mario Bergoglio is perhaps the worst," an Argentine Catholic wrote in a post at Rorate Caeli, a blog for aficionados of the old Latin Mass rites. "It really cannot be what Benedict wanted for the Church."

"Something is profoundly wrong when the winds of change can blow so swiftly through an immutable institution of God's own making," agreed Patrick Archbold at Creative Minority Report, another conservative site.
So yeah, he's doing everything right. Did you know:
  1. His huge, honking popeyguy ring isn't gold -- it's gold-plated.
  2. Where past popes showed humility by washing the feet of priests, he'll wash the feet of kids from juvie hall.
  3. He doesn't wear the blood-red shoes. His are typical brown men's shoes.
  4. He doesn't withhold communion from people who advocate for abortion rights.
  5. He can smile.
The linked HuffPo article asks when the honeymoon will end. When will this pope lash out at gays or nuns or some other disenfranchised group? It mentions that Jesuits are supposed to listen to their community for 100 days before getting heavy and issuing rules. Perhaps the pope will lash out at gays and nuns then. As I've said before, Argentina's gays hate him and I'm sure they have good reasons.

But for this little period of time, he's continuing to do a great impression of Jesus.

Pvt. Manning's trial a secrecy primer

The government's treatment of Bradley Manning, the man who passed its secrets to Wikileaks, has been appalling since day one. His trial continues this tradition.
“I am very sympathetic, as any reasonable person would be, to the fact that there are issues in a military court that should be kept secret, but that is not what we are talking about here,” Mr. Pilkington said. “This is kindergarten stuff, with restrictions on very basic documents like dockets and orders.” 
Reporters can't report on the trial because of all the insane restrictions. For instance, the judge will read a long document aloud in a very speedy manner -- and then won't issue the document to the reporters. But it's public, it was read aloud in court. Doesn't matter. They're doing everything they can to make this trial difficult to cover.

Remember when Obama said his administration would be the most transparent in history? Yeah, transparent like Putin's government. Obama has carried forward the worst aspects of the Bush administration. Never forget this.

March 24, 2013

Baseball language (and stadium "music")

I wrote a post recently where I asked why they play such dreadful, boring "music" at baseball games. Tunes like the theme from The Addams Family and (dog help us) Green Acres are often included in baseball games. They also play Hava Nagila and that silly child's tune that goes "If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands." No tunes anywhere in the universe could be more boring.

After posting the question, I looked up the answer. It was slim pickings on the internet, but I did find a couple of suggestions that these songs are chosen because they make people clap their hands. Duh. Could there possibly be a more boring reason? Oy. And it's true. Each of these songs has a space where the audience is supposed to clap. Are claps really so precious that they're willing to pollute the stadium with sub-par "music"? Hell, yes!

Moving along, I used to publish tons of posts about the language of baseball. If this interests you, click on that tag below and it will bring you to the posts. Interesting stuff. Okay, here's one more.

I've always been unenthusiastic about some of the language the baseball announcers use. Like saying, "He skied it out to right field!" to denote a ball that's hit really high. "Skied" it? That was the best they could do? How about "lofted" it out into right field? Well, never mind.

Here's another one. When a player hits a low ball, the announcers sometimes say, "He golfed it out to left field!" "Golfed"? How about he "putted" it out to left field? Or "clubbed" it out to left field? Golf isn't the right word to use here.

One last thing. I love when baseball announcers state their man-love for a pitcher by saying "I. Like. His. Stuff!" They don't like the catcher's stuff, or a great hitter's stuff. No. This is a comment restricted to pitchers. And obviously, it's a phrase used only for men, by nature of baseball's all-male ranks.

So here's a question. Could this term apply to a woman? Will we ever hear members of Congress saying "I. Love. Pelosi's. Stuff!" I think someone in a position of power should try this out. Okay, that's it for today. Gotta go watch some baseball games.

About Palm Sunday

I don't have much to say about Palm Sunday, which I'm told is today. Just this: When I was a little kid (okay, I was never little) and was forced into church on Palm Sunday, I rejoiced.

No, not because of anything religious. It was the smell. Finally, there was something in the church other than empty, dusty space and boring people. It seemed to freshen everything and it was fun to try to make anything-but-a-cross with the palms. It made the hour pass quickly, which was a blessing.

So let's hear it for Palm Sunday. Woo-hoo.

Anne Frank's tree

I really like this idea:
Saplings from the chestnut tree that stood as a symbol of hope for Anne Frank as she hid from the Nazis for two years in Amsterdam are being distributed to 11 locations in the United States as part of a project that aims to preserve her legacy and promote tolerance. 
If you've read Anne Franke's diary, you know that this tree meant a lot to her. Here's an excerpt from her diary:
"Nearly every morning I go to the attic to blow the stuffy air out of my lungs," she wrote on Feb. 23, 1944. "From my favorite spot on the floor I look up at the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree, on whose branches little raindrops shine, appearing like silver, and at the seagulls and other birds as they glide on the wind." 
It's right that this tree should live on and give hope to others. One of the saplings will be grown at the 9/11 memorial. Very nice. 

He who barks

Look! Up in the sky!!!
I got the call at midnight when I was dead asleep. Groggily, I said "OMD, who the hell is that?" When I reached for the phone, I heard my cousin Carmine's excited voice on the other end.

"It's dog! He was here!" he exclaimed. I could hear the tears of joy in his voice. Dog had come down to Earth and revealed himself -- to my cousin! I can't tell you much more because Carmine is sworn to secrecy. That's the way it works with these dogly visitations. It's like when you visit the Oracle. What she says is for your ears only. Similarly, he who barks, barks only for you.

But to prove that the one true dog appeared at my cousin's house, I present the photographic proof you see here. Luckily, when Carmine told his wife Barbara he had a hunch that dog was coming to their home, she said, "Jeebus! I'd better get a photo of this for Keith's blog!" Always thinking of me, that Barbara.

She grabbed her coat and camera and ran a few blocks away, figuring the shot needed perspective. And would you look at that photo! It's irrefutable proof that dog visited their house.

I tell you, something is in the air. Dog's visit -- and all those meteors and comets and popes! This may be the Time of Dogly Wisdom. In fact, I'll bet dog is going to appear to a number of my readers. I just feel it; no, that's not right. It's not merely a feeling -- it's a matter of faith. I have faith that dog will appear to us.

So, all of you -- keep an eye out. And sniff the air now and then to see if you can detect his dogly presence. (He smells like cookies.) And please report any and all visitations to this blog! I'm counting on you to be intrepid reporters in this Time of Dogly Wisdom.

March 23, 2013

Benedict portrait made from condoms

You can see the image here. Niki Johnson, the artist, calls the image "Eggs Benedict". It's a portrait of the popeyguy emeritus, made out of colorful condoms. She created it in response to Benedict's horrifying words when he visited Africa:
“I would say that this problem of AIDS cannot be overcome merely with money, necessary though it is,” Benedict remarked. “If there is no human dimension, if Africans do not help, the problem cannot be overcome by the distribution of prophylactics: on the contrary, they increase it.”
He actually suggested that condoms increase AIDS. That's our former popeyguy for you. Given his behavior, this is a fitting tribute.

New pope says surprising things

I heard a few things about the new popeyguy on the news last night. I was able to track one of them down in a HuffPo article:
But Francis...added that atheists and believers can be "precious allies" in their efforts "to defend the dignity of man, in the building of a peaceful coexistence between peoples and in the careful protection of creation."
Benedict would never say that. Never. This pope is giving a lot of people hope.

The other thing I heard on the news was something he said about priestly celibacy. I haven't been able to track down the exact quote, but in another HuffPo article I found mention of something he said in 2012, when he was merely Cardinal Bergoglio:
As for celibacy among priests, Bergoglio said that he -- "for the moment" -- was "in favor of maintaining celibacy, with all its pros and cons, because we have ten centuries of good experiences rather than failures." 
The article doesn't include what I heard last night on my local news. The best I can recall, it was something like this: "Priestly celibacy is a matter of discipline, not faith." Note that I put quotes around that, but am paraphrasing from memory. What I suppose this to mean is that Roman Catholicism, the religion, says nothing about priests not being allowed to marry. It's merely a church tradition, and one that was adopted in "modern" times (in the 1500s, according to some records). Thus the rule can change.

Interesting times ahead. And of course, the most interesting aspect of all this is that Benedict tried to stack the deck of Cardinals with conservative, head-in-the-sand authoritarians. Yet that hand-chosen group of cardinals seems to have chosen a breath of fresh air as pope. It's a stunning turn of events.

Rape in wartime

There's a tough but fascinating article by Nick Turse at Asia Times Online. It's called Who did you rape in the war, daddy? And he's right. Veterans keep quiet about what happened in the war(s), and we go along with this. As Turse suggests, maybe it's time to clarify exactly what goes down in wartime. Won't happen, but it's a good point.

Half-finished work: a writer's dilemma

Charles Deemer has a new blog called A Writerly Retirement. I found a post there that was right up my alley. You see, I've written entire books that are simply sitting around, waiting for me to work them into final form. Finding the willingness to launch into this extensive rewrite has proven elusive. Deemer gives some advice in Two projects I never finished, and two more important ones I did.
In the long run, the work gets done that needs to get done, I suppose. I try to encourage young writers not to be too hard on themselves when a project stalls or fails. Bumps in the road, even periods of abandonment, are part of the process. If you are writing inside-out, which is to say, writing as an act of exploration and self-discovery, your unconscious will deliver the goods when it's time -- and no sooner. Find your process and learn to trust it. I did, many times over.
I was relieved to read this. Because that's the way I think about it: "it'll happen when it's time -- and no sooner." The period of inactivity, of putting aside a writing project, is a hard thing to live through but the decision makes sense. I can only write when it's time to write. And then it's so simple, it's like falling naked into warm water.

Mind you, Deemer's done so much in his life (as you'll see if you read the post; jeez, music too!). But I'm 64 and just started to write fiction. Different story. Still, I think this rule is sound. I'll get to work on the right project at some point -- and only I will know when I reach that critical juncture. For now, I'm going to calm down. Thanks, CD.

Too cute for words

This is the cover image from the new Duluth Trading Company catalog. They specialize in "long-tail" T-shirts that (ahem) cover the gap. Truly, it's a company built on the concept of hiding plumber's butt. I think this is one of the cutest images ever to grace a catalog.

Lately, they've been producing great covers. I looked for an image of the last one but I couldn't find it. It had the sexiest guy you've ever seen, boxing in his underwear.

Good work, Duluth. They make clothes for a blue-collar customer base, which you have to think is largely straight. So I guess these sorts of images appeal to both straight and gay men. Kinda fun.

March 22, 2013

How come Americans don't try to arrest Bush?

In Britain, Tony Blair is a wanted man. Well, by some citizens, anyway. They try to arrest him every time he appears in public. Way to go, Brits!
"I walked up to him very briskly and managed to put my hand on his arm and say, 'Mr Blair, this is a citizen's arrest,'" Cronin told Al Jazeera of the 2010 encounter at the European Parliament in Brussels, where he worked as a journalist.

"I didn't have time to say anything else before his bodyguards pushed me away, so I just shouted at him, 'You are guilty of war crimes!' He looked at me for a split-second before I was bundled off. I can only describe it as a look of puzzlement and contempt."
Yeah, but it's upsetting him and that's a good thing. So why don't Americans try to grab Bush's arm and haul him off to a jail? This needs to happen (to him and Cheney and Condi and Rumsfeld and Yoo and...). I give Code Pink credit. At least they try. But this should be a national effort. Let's snag him!

Advice from Star Trek (and Konrad Lorenz)

Remember that episode from the original Star Trek, where a planet waged its wars with computers? If an area was struck, not in reality but in the computer game, all the people in the actual area walked into extermination chambers and were killed. No mess, no splatter.

So okay, the killing part wasn't great advice. But the idea that planets or countries could have virtual wars is a good one. How about this:

Each country puts up a web site. Oh, wait. They already have such things. Okay, then countries try to attack other countries' web sites. Oh, wait. We see that all the time.

Well, let's move this activity into prime time. Let's make the game be all about attacking the web sites of "enemy" countries. No wars, and no deaths in this scenario. It's all about pride. My site is better than your site, and can withstand your attacks. So there!

Instead of arming for real wars, countries would devote their efforts to cracking code and "assaulting" the enemy site. If this was televised in some way, and hyped into a big cultural thing, it could catch on. You'd try to insult the other country with your stealthy code and by putting things on their web site to make them look stupid. (Yup, just like we already do. We just need to step up the coverage.) Countries would take great pride in their web sites and consider them beyond attack. They would posture and say nasty things. But no one would die or be harmed in any way.

In other words, let's take a page from Konrad Lorenz's book, "On Aggression". Animals settle their disputes largely through ceremonial "fights" where no one dies or is even badly hurt. In an old post about Lorenz's book, I suggested we use sports as the arena for solving global disagreements. But this could work, too. Heck, let's do both.

But whatever we do, let's stop waging actual wars. This is insanity, similar to doing nothing as climate change builds and builds and...oh, wait!

Married Catholic priests not so rare after all

There's an opinion piece in the NYT about celibacy and Roman Catholicism. It's written by the son of a former priest. He tells the tale of South American priests who married and remained priests. Sacre bleu!
Not only had Podesta married in 1972, he had also devoted the rest of his life to winning recognition for priests who had made similar choices, and for the women with whom they now shared their lives. Mandatory celibacy itself, Podesta suggested, was based largely on “the undervaluation of women” and the notion that men tainted by female contact should be prohibited from approaching the altar; to rectify this situation, he enlisted his wife as a concelebrant during Mass. 
I've never heard that before -- the bit about married men being tainted by women and thus unfit for altar service. But it sounds like it's right on the money. After all, that's how these "pious" men view women, as unclean creatures. This sentiment clangs through many religions, including Islam and the Jewish religion. It's sickening.

The article goes on to describe the new pope's interactions with the Podestas -- both the man and his wife -- while he was in Argentina. It seems there is a slim chance that this pope might change the church's tune on priestly celibacy. It's not a given, not by a long shot, but the article makes it seem possible. That would really be progress and would go a long way toward fixing what ails this sex-obsessed church.

March 21, 2013

Craven American of the day: Timmy Dolan

There is some hope among American nuns, now that Francis is pope. According to the linked article, many nuns believe that Pope Francis' focus on the poor will blend well with the way the nuns see their mission: to minister to the least fortunate. Mind you, the article also includes the pinched voices of religious authoritarians who seem to hope that the pope will flagellate the nuns in public, preferably in the nude. There will always be ill voices.

However, I found it detestable that cardinal Timmy Dolan would chime in, as if he's the voice of unconditional love:
In an interview with The Associated Press this week, U.S. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the head of the U.S. bishops' conference, said he expected Pope Francis would bring "freshness" and understanding to the debate with the Leadership Conference..."I think the greatest thing he's going to bring is to say to everybody 'Be not afraid. We're friends. We're on this journey together.'"
Indeed. Timmy, you're not anyone's friend. In fact, as the head of the US. Conference on Catholic Bishops, you had a hand in this debacle. And if I recall correctly, you seemed quite happy with the idea that the nuns would soon suffer at the Vatican's hand. And you certainly never spoke up for them. (Criticize your boss? That's not in your job description, is it, Timmy?) To hop in now and say you hope the pope brings "understanding to the debate" is hypocritical and, in your case, downright craven. Thus I crown you the Craven American of the Day.

We see you, Timmy. We really do. You are the very definition of "repulsive". Thank dog they didn't make you pope.

Fun iPad game

I've been playing WordGell on my iPad for a week or so. Unfortunately, it seems to have disappeared from the App Store and iTunes. Bummer. But I'll tell you about it anyway.

It's like those acrostic games you see in puzzle magazines, where you have to find words on a letter grid and the words can go in any direction. In the paper game, you draw a line through the letters and try to make words with what's left. I always thought the game was dumb so I never tried it.

But WordGell adds a fascinating angle. When you drag your finger over letters to identify a word, the letters disappear, leaving blank spaces in the 12 by 12 grid. The cool thing is that when you've found all the words you can, you push a button and the grid collapses, killing the empty spaces. The grid is now smaller and the letters once again touch each other.

You can collapse the grid again and again. Each time the letters move to different locations, making new words possible. But the great thing is that you end up playing two games at once: the basic one where you find the words with your finger, and another one in your head where you watch the letters and spaces and plan helpful collapses that will enable you to make great words.

It's almost like you're playing the game with one hand while manipulating a Rubik's Cube with the other. And it's fast. You're making words really quickly. There's a timer, which I leave on four or five minutes. That isn't the briefest setting; it goes down to one minute! That would really make you move.

Not bad for a word game. The downside is that it uses a lot of battery power, which may be why it's not in the App Store at the moment. You can watch the battery level drop during a game, which is pretty weird for an iPad. Their batteries last and last.

Anyway, it's always nice to find a good word game. And by the way, this one won't let you use curse words -- and yes, by this I mean the most anti-women words. This is refreshing. Most word games I've played allow you to use any scurrilous term you choose. WordGell's classier than that.

Any other good word games out there? Chime in.

Writers and readers

Fiction writers work up a plot, devise characters and then reel out their story. But how people absorb that story is a mystery until a reader shares his experience. This is great fun for writers. There is nothing more interesting than hearing readers' reactions. I've written many times about the value of these "reports from the field". A sensible critique can even make a writer alter his story. (Artichoke Annie's reaction to the tale made me change the beginning.) But the reports can also be intriguing.

At this point, quite a few people have read "Xmas Carol", so I've had the pleasure of hearing many readers' reactions. One that amused me was discovering which character was deemed the sexiest. You don't really think about such a thing when you're writing a book -- at least, I didn't. I was surprised when a gay male reader told me he was mightily turned on by Spider, a straight male character in the story. I replied, "How could you think that? Joe was the sexiest character!" (Joe is one of the two main, gay characters who are married to each other.) So there we were, arguing about which character was sexier. It was a strange thing -- and it did my heart good.

Another reader told me he cried at one point in the story. When I began to tell my sister about this, she cut me off before I was able to tell her what made the reader cry. Without waiting to hear what triggered his tears, she jumped in with her take. "Lenny?", she asked, referring to a sweet but pathetic character in the book. I was shocked to hear this. Lenny? But after mulling it over, I decided I could understand her reaction. But the reader I was speaking about cried over a different character and scene.

I find this so interesting. People crying over what happens to my characters. And finding them sexy. I love it.

Truly, nothing is more fun than hearing from people who've read your book. Nothing. Any readers want to chime in on this topic? Since we don't want to throw spoilers around, let's answer only this question: which character, if any, did you think was sexy in "Xmas Carol"?

Won't someone please think about the children?!

Ahem. Someone has. And that someone is the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The American Academy of Pediatrics declared its support for same-sex marriage for the first time on Thursday, saying that allowing gay and lesbian parents to marry if they so choose is in the best interests of their children
Ring them bells.
A large body of evidence demonstrates that children raised by gay or lesbian parents fare as well in emotional, cognitive and social functioning as peers raised by heterosexuals, the academy said. 
Ring 'em louder.
Dr. Travis Kidner, 36, a surgeon in Los Angeles, and Hernan Lopez, 42, a media executive, married in 2008 and adopted Nicholas, 2 1/2 years old, and Zoe, 21 months. “It’s important for kids to know they are from a stable home and that their parents are married,” Dr. Kidner said. 

The pediatrics academy’s support for same-sex marriage heartened him. “The arc is in our favor now,” he said. 
Yes, it is. And it's about damn time.

Installed or enthroned, result is the same

Having just witnessed the installation of a new pope who is against gay marriage, we are now treated to the "enthronement" of the new Archbishop of Canterbury, who is against gay marriage.
LONDON (AP) — The new Archbishop of Canterbury is to be formally enthroned Thursday after using a radio interview to back Church of England positions on homosexuality, which include opposition to same-sex marriage. 

But Justin Welby told the BBC he is aware that many gays have enduring relationships of "stunning" quality that have "deeply challenged" his own views. 
Well, gee. Thanks for being "deeply challenged", Justin. I guess it hasn't occurred to you that marriage is something that "many gays [who] have enduring relationships" of "stunning quality" would want and deserve. For a moment there, I forgot that your religion has nothing to do with fairness or justice. It exists only to focus on a nonexistent god. Thanks for setting us straight.

March 20, 2013

The new "pragmatic" pope

There's an article in the NYT today about how Pope Francis dealt with gay marriage when he was a cardinal in Argentina. The refreshing message is that this pope is not the old pope. Where Benedict would never bend on any matter, Francis understands the art of compromise.
“The melody may be the same, but the sound is completely different,” Alberto Melloni, the director of the liberal Catholic John XXIII Foundation for Religious Science in Bologna, Italy, said of the two. 
Much to the horror of Argentina's bishops, Bergoglio (Francis' maiden name) suggested a way out of the impasse the church had reached with the Argentinian government, which was committed to allowing gay marriage.
Faced with the near certain passage of the gay marriage bill, Cardinal Bergoglio offered the civil union compromise as the “lesser of two evils,” said Sergio Rubin, his authorized biographer. “He wagered on a position of greater dialogue with society.”
But the bishops who served on Argentina's Bishops Conference would have none of it, and overruled him. It was the only time Bergoglio lost a round during his six years as head of the Conference. But now he's the popeyguy, the man whom no priest can cross. However, the article cautions that decent people we shouldn't get our hopes up.
There was little ambiguity in Cardinal Bergoglio’s vehement opposition to the gay marriage law, which was approved by the Senate in July 2010. In the months between the bishops’ meeting and the Senate vote, the cardinal, in a letter, called the bill a “destructive pretension against the plan of God.” 
So in the end, what have we learned? Bergoglio was a good guy, and he was a bad guy. But at least he reached out to the gay population in some way. The article relates the experience of a gay activist who met with him on more than one occasion. He said the pope always treated him with respect. I like that.

March 19, 2013

The church of sex

Last night while watching the local (NYC) news, I heard a righteous rant. The station has a fairly rightwing guy who opines late in the show (along with a great leftwing funny guy, so you don't mind it so much). Anyway, he chose the Vatican as his sparring partner last night.

What he said was why is my church totally focused on sex? What happened to god and religion? Today's Roman Catholic church is just about opposing contraception, belittling gay couples, fighting against abortion and raping little kids when no one is looking. He was aghast and hoped the new pope would return the religion's focus to, you know, religion.

It was a great rant because it made sense and was easy to understand. The Roman Catholic church is all about sex -- which isn't allowed for priests (right!), single people and teh gays. The only thing priests do anymore is rant about everyone else's sex lives (while refusing to talk about the sex lives of priests). How did this come to pass? When exactly did the Vatican turn Roman Catholicism into the church of sex? And lastly and most importantly, why?

I went to a Catholic high school in the 1960s and even did a semester at a Catholic college. And I assure you no one, including the priests and brothers, was focused on this stuff. This is a new, sick addiction for the church -- and it needs to move on. Somehow, some way, the church must learn that people have a right to govern their own sex lives. And after the priests shut up about sex, if they have something to say about, you know, religion, they should let us know. Until then, the church of sex should be shunned.

Don't forget to feed your geese

I know I just mentioned that I stopped feeding the geese -- but it snowed and it's not easy to find food when the ground is covered. So I tossed out a ton of seeds (and peanuts for the other critters) today.

This is the post-meal photo. See how relaxed they are? It's great to sit in the snow when your stomach is full.

When it snows, think of the creatures that live nearby -- and feed 'em. It does your heart good. (Click the photo for a larger view. Awwww. They're so sweet.)

Spring salads

I'm not usually a fan of salads. Having been a bodybuilder for most of my life, I thought only of protein content when eating food. Or at least I used to. So protein-poor veggies were never a part of my life. In fact, I made fun of them (dog forgive me!).

Anyway, in Spring, salads seem appealing. And my sister recently introduced me to Colavita Balsamic Vinegar. Jeez, it makes for a good salad! When she brought a bottle over to my house a few weeks back, she mentioned that she uses a lot of it in salads because it's "so delicious".

I couldn't imagine how vinegar might be "delicious" but I gave it a try. She was right. It makes a salad taste great. Now, this may not come as news to many of you. But for a food-deprived hermit like me, this was like a bolt of lightning. If you similarly know nothing about food, give this a try. It's expensive but it's worth it (if you can afford it; I know some of you can't. A bottle's like $40).

Look for it at your supermarket. It's great stuff.

Pope Francis reminds me of Jesus

But not in a good way. Watching the growing adulation focused on this pope, and the fawning media coverage of his every move, it's easy to see how a Jesus figure could sprout up among an ignorant population.

Look! He's walking among the people! Gasp! He kissed a baby! Yes, it's very easy to fool people. We only have to look around the human landscape to see the same sort of nonsense everywhere.

Well, would you look at that! Kate got her heel caught in a sidewalk crack! And now, OMG! She's freeing the heel!!! It's almost as if she's human, like us! Oh, and wasn't she dignified as she reached down for her strap? Sigh. Only royalty can do such a thing!

Yes, exclamation points all over the place. Because people want to get excited, they want to believe in fairytales, they want to think there's something or someone higher than them. In other words, they're nitwits.

And that's how a Jesus can appear at various times in human history. It's all about people's gullibility -- and there's plenty of that to go around. Trust me on this: if this popeyguy plays his cards right, he could become the next Jesus.

Oh, look! I think Francis is at the window! Everyone kneel!

March 18, 2013

Heavy snow coming tonight

Heavy is the operative word here. A wet, heavy snow. Maybe seven inches or more. This could bring down the power lines out here in the sticks where, curiously, I find myself at this point in my life. If I disappear, you know the drill: remain calm and know that I'll be back as soon as I can.

PS: I just saw a news bulletin go by on the TV screen. It said "Nighttime bathroom trips make you less productive." Personally, peeing in my bed would make me less productive. But maybe that's just me.

See you tomorrow (hopefully).

Awww. Captain Peacock is dead.

British actor Frank Thornton — best known as Captain Peacock in the hit television comedy "Are You Being Served?" — has died at age 92. 
I loved everyone on "Are You Being Served". It's painful to hear of any of the actors' deaths. John Inman (Mr. Humphreys) died some time ago, as did Mollie Sugden (Mrs. Slocombe). And now Frank Thornton is gone, too.

In my writing, I often say "Indeed" in response to idiotic statements. I got this straight from Frank Thornton's mouth. He said indeed better than anyone else. I'll miss him, as I miss them all.

GOP wingnuts adopt the pope's words

As readers of this blog surely know, the popeyguy emeritus, when he was pope, referred to gays as "intrinsically disordered". Surprise, surprise. American wingnuts have taken up the phrase. We are officially "disordered".

Good to know. But then, there is no real distinction between the Vatican and the GOP. They are one.

Now that it's safe, Hillary is on our side

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced her support for gay marriage Monday, putting her in line with other potential Democratic presidential candidates on a social issue that is rapidly gaining public approval. 
What courage it must have taken for Hillary to say this now that the battle is all but over. What a brave, brave woman she must be.

This popeyguy has star quality

Even I am falling for his shtick. The Catholics have to be loving this. It's kind of like when Sarah Palin joined the GOP platform and made everyone see sparkles. The Catholics are downright giddy over their new pope -- and rightly so, coming after the corpse-like performance of the popeyguy emeritus.

I want to point out one more positive factor from the new popeyguy's performance yesterday. I couldn't find the link until last night. Here it is:
“Given that many of you do not belong to the Catholic Church, and others are not believers, I give this blessing from my heart, in silence, to each one of you, respecting the conscience of each one of you, but knowing that each one of you is a child of God,” he said. “May God bless you.” 
If we didn't have assurances from Argentina's gays that Francis is the devil himself, I might even like this guy. I mean, here he is saying decent things about non-believers, going so far as to say he respects the conscience of each of them. 

But those gay folks in Argentina didn't come to hate him for no reason. Still, I'm quite enjoying the show the new popeyguy's putting on. And yes, I think that's what it is. A show. Time will tell.

March 17, 2013

A test for the new popeyguy

Francis, the new popeyguy, is putting on a show of friendliness. Now, it may be that he really is friendly. Who knows? The man is a stranger to most of us. We'll need time to assess his actions and words.

We do know that he's against gay marriage. On the other hand, in Argentina he tried to work out a compromise with the government, which was pushing hard for gay marriage. I've read that Bergoglio (the popeyguy's maiden name) suggested civil unions for gays, as a form of compromise.

I find this encouraging. I don't recall the popeyguy emeritus ever saying that he'd like to see civil unions established for gays. All we heard from him were his all-too-frequent comments about gays being "intrinsically disordered". Benedict never said one conciliatory thing regarding the church's war on gays. On the contrary, he stepped up the church's attacks against everything lavender. So there's this difference between the two popeyguys. It doesn't give me great hope, but it's something.

Going forward, what I want to know is how this popeyguy will treat American nuns. You may recall that Benedict launched a howitzer attack against the nuns, all but calling them whores and Jezebels. But if Francis is truly kind, we may not see this type of virulent misogyny spewing from his lips. What will he do? I really want to know.

I suspect it won't be long before we know the answer to this question. After all, if he's a kind man he won't leave the nuns hanging. And his response will tell us everything we need to know about the new popeyguy.

Baseball confusion

I watched a  spring training baseball game last night -- a Mets/Braves that I recorded a few days ago.

Late in the game, the Mets brought in a new pitcher. When I saw the name on the back of his shirt -- Laffey -- I was shocked. I thought, "We've got Laffey now?! He's terrific." As a Mets fan, I was excited and I wondered why I hadn't heard about the trade.

And then I realized I had confused Laffey with a pitcher named Smiley. Made me laugh.

March 16, 2013

Kittens grow up to be cats

You know the syndrome: someone sees a cute kitty in the window, buys it and brings it home. They just love the kitty because it's so darned cute...until it grows up into a cat. The party's over -- for a certain kind of person, anyway.

Trust me on this segue:
The North Dakota Senate on Friday approved banning abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, sending what would be the most stringent abortion restrictions in the U.S. to the state's Republican governor for his signature. 
The kitten problem goes all the way up to humans. They just loves them some babies, those lawmakers! Cause babies are so cute. Awwwww. Someone get a camera!

And as they pass these draconian measures around the country -- they also cut programs that provide health care, education and food for children. See, they're not babies anymore once they're children. They're kids, fer god's sake, and we all know what's gonna happen next: they're gonna turn into adults! And nobody on the GOP side cares about kids or adults (or anyone else, for that matter, except them and their rich pals).

But they think more babies should come into this world. Unwanted babies. Like most of American life these days, this push to restrict abortions has nothing to do with rationality, nothing to do with real life. And it certainly has nothing to do with women or kids. (Or babies, for that matter. This is just a way for male lawmakers to abuse women, when you get right down to it.)

Derangement Syndrome is epidemic in our country and I don't think there's any way back, not while we cut education and guarantee that the next generation will be as ignorant as this one. We passed the tipping point a long time ago. It's just so sad.

More about the new pope

I knew the popeyguy (I've already given up on the name frankenpope) was against gay marriage. But I didn't know this:
But the most potentially sensitive talks could come with [Argentina's president] Fernandez after years of open tensions over the then-archbishop's strong opposition to initiatives that led Argentina to become Latin American country to legalize gay marriage. He also opposed — but failed to stop — Fernandez from promoting free contraception and artificial insemination. 
Sometimes I forget that the church is against anything that has to do with sex. I hadn't even thought about contraception and artificial insemination. And I didn't know the church opposed the latter. What is wrong with them? A method to help women conceive is evil? Oh, that's right -- it brings vaginas to mind. Can't have that.

I've been reading stories about the new popeyguy and he seems sincere, direct and kind. He's a big improvement over Benedict, in terms of personality traits. To put it simply, as he would, Francis is friendly. That's something no one would say about the previous popeyguy.

But here we are with another pope who is the enemy of gay marriage. And we still have no clue why the church is so opposed to GLBT people. Certainly their explanations make no sense. They're words without meaning, as you know if you've ever listened to one of them argue about the topic. This vendetta, so much a part of the church, remains unexplained.

March 15, 2013

Doh! I missed it.

In the post below, I toyed with a name for the new popeyguy -- and misfired. I didn't see the obvious.

He shall henceforth be called...the Frankenpope!

(How could I have missed this?!)

They would know

AP headline today: Argentine Gays Not Thrilled with New Pope. I can't think of anyone better qualified to tell us about the new guy.
Nearly three years before Argentina became known as home to the first Latin American pope, it made history as the first country in the region to approve gay marriage — an action that then-Cardinal Bergoglio actively opposed. 

Esteban Paulon is president of the Argentine Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transsexuals. He says Bergoglio waged a "war of God" against a gay-marriage proposal headed for Congress.
There's not much more to the "story" -- it tells us nothing we didn't already know. Popeyguy Frank will be at least as awful as the last guy. And let's face it, if Popeyguy Frank was a decent man, operating in a world where some countries want to kill gays on sight (that would be the world we actually live in, BTW) -- he'd speak up for gay marriage, not fight against it.

But Roman Catholic priests know nothing of morality. They reveal this every day.

Women are not safe in Egypt

Appalling news from Egypt this morning. From the NYT:
“A woman needs to be confined within a framework that is controlled by the man of the house,” Osama Yehia Abu Salama, a Brotherhood family expert, said of the group’s general approach, speaking in a recent seminar for women training to become marriage counselors. Even if a wife were beaten by her husband, he advised, “Show her how she had a role in what happened to her.”

“If he is to blame,” Mr. Abu Salama added, “she shares 30 percent or 40 percent of the fault.” 
Nice, huh? And Morsi's spokesperson sounds little better. (And let's remember that Morsi is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood party.) But perhaps the most awful thing about this report is the reaction of most women in Egypt:
But Mr. Abu Salam also argued that husbands should keep their wives under tight control. “It’s the nature of the weak to overstep the required framework if she is given the space and the freedom, like children,” he said in the seminar. Most of the women nodded in agreement. 
If you read the linked story, you will be sickened -- guaranteed. That is, if your morals aren't already skewed by religion or other vile notions.

A question answered

About two years ago, two young guys drowned in a public pool on Staten Island. At least one was planning to take the test to join the Navy Seals. It is assumed that they were practicing holding their breath. In any case, they drowned in fairly shallow water during the exercise.

I couldn't understand it. How could two young, healthy guys drown? You run out of air, you pop up and breathe, no? But today, while I was reading a story about drowning, I encountered this explanation of what drowning is like:
Osinski says one of the most subtle forms of drowning is called "shallow water blackout."

Typically, a person holding his breath will be triggered to breathe when his CO2 levels get high. But if a swimmer is holding his breath for a long time while exhaling underwater, or is going underwater repeatedly, his CO2 levels are lowered. When that happens, the brain's built-in alarm to breathe doesn't go off, despite a lack of oxygen.

"You can't tell when they go unconscious, until it's too late," Osinski says.
Their brain alarms didn't go off, they passed out and they drowned. Mystery solved. It's still a very sad thing, but at least I understand it now.

Peanut allergies

I have intense allergic reactions to many natural things. I went to an allergy clinic long ago and a doctor began to poke needles in my arm, to learn what I was allergic to. He stopped midway through the process, laughed and said, "You're allergic to everything." Luckily, this changed for the better as I got older. I still have to be hauled to an emergency room now and then, but it's way better than when I was a child.

Okay, that was a digression. Here's the thing. I do not suffer from peanut allergies. I eat them all the time. My local grocery store has begun to sell 5-lb. bags of peanuts (in the shell) for $5.99 -- a monster bargain. I buy six of these bags every couple of weeks -- to feed the crows, squirrels and jays.

When I tear open one of these bags, an intense peanut smell wafts up to me. And in that moment, I can almost understand why people have violent allergic reactions to peanuts. There's something intense and different about the scent. To someone as allergic as I am, it hints at power of these things. I can almost sense its ability to choke and overwhelm a person. Peanuts are powerful. I get it.

Wikipedia Commons image by Pollinator